The Swan Song of Socrates

Living well means learning how to die, for when we are well prepared, due to proper guidance and education, to leave this body forever, we leave it not with fear or regret, but with wonder within our soul who has finally learned the power of eternal love that holds this cosmos together in this life and all other lives to come.

Anastasia

Excerpt from Plato’s Phaedo, 84e. Translation by Anastasia Harris.

It would be impossible to persuade other human beings that my present death sentence is a form of luck if I cannot persuade you two, Simmias and Cebes…yet I am not inferior to the swans in relation to prophecy when they sense that is time for them to die and upon that last hour before their death, they sing most beautifully and with great abundance, rejoicing that they are soon to arrive in the realm of the divine where they may be of service to the divine. Human beings, however, due to their fear of death, lie about the swans, and say that they are singing dirges in pain due to their death; but they do not understand that no bird sings when it is hungry or cold or experiences any kind of pain, not the nightingale; not the swallow; not the hoopoe, the birds they say who sing lamentations for their death. But these do not seem to me to sing lamentations, and neither do the swans, for I believe they are of Apollo, and are prophets and soothsayers who sing of the good things in the realm we cannot see, and they delight in that day of arrival there far more than in their previous time in life. I myself believe that I am a fellow servant with the swans and a priest of the god himself, and that I am not an inferior prophet of our master, nor more melancholy than the swans are when they leave their bodies.

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